January 16, 2012

Guest Post & $25 Amazon GC Giveaway w/ author Claire Ashgrove!

Blending History with Fiction

Writers do this all the time, even contemporary authors. At the least, every character has a past that was founded in some era prior to the one we’re reading about. That past gives them fundamental beliefs and values. Likely it contributes to goal, and certainly conflict. So when I mention blending history with fiction, I’m not necessarily talking about that.

I’m talking about interweaving history into fiction as an active part of the plot. This is something that comes naturally to me. I don’t think I could stop it even if I tried. When you get past the author, I’m a historian at heart. Yes, that’s right, I get all dreamy-eyed at documentaries, and I was the sicko in class who always asked the professor for more details while the entire class was asleep.

When it comes to European history, you might as well count me as truly obsessed. Which made crafting IMMORTAL HOPE pretty much an excursion in a chocolate factory. Yum yum.

Add in the fact that second to Ancient Civilzations is my passion for Medieval History and I have to say this was the most fun series I’ve ever plotted, simply for that reason alone.

IMMORTAL HOPE is the collective of documented history, spiced with a touch of speculative fiction. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fiction for a reason. Romance on top of everything else. But the driving aspect of the plot is the written record. Nine nights did ride with de Payans. The world knows they did find something beneath the Temple Mount. They were persecuted at Chinon, and pardons were quietly issued shortly thereafter to several key members. Asterleigh existed, as did Seacourt and Aletorp. And Fulk, the cousin whose soul Merrick is sworn to avenge, was a real man too.

For me, blending history with fiction allows me to believe the story better. I will recognize key details, and if I can ground myself with those realities, when they are altered, I’m more apt to buy into the change. Steve Berry is a master at this, and he blends so seamlessly that the lines between fiction and truth are almost indiscernible within the plot.

Finally, there’s the part of me that would really like a time machine just so I can go back in time. When history is merged with fiction, particularly when little-known places are involved, if all the other details are solid fact, I can thoroughly become lost in the idea of “What if?”

What about you? Do you find it easier to believe a story if history is involved? Or do you find historical details mundane and a distraction to the plot?

Maybe this excerpt, which gives a slight glimpse of old-world dining, will help you decide:

“Dine,” Merrick insisted as he jabbed at her bowl with his spoon, the gesture jerking her out of her thoughts.

Anne stared down at the greasiest bowl of . . . glop she’d ever seen. Merrick said it was stew. But her eyes—and her stomach—refused to consider this mushy concoction as anything but garbage. “Oh. Hell. No.”

She pushed the bowl away and fought back the urge to whimper. She was so hungry her stomach was in knots. But even starving people had their standards, and that bowl of crap defied the minimal ones she possessed.

Spoon poised near his mouth, Merrick lifted one reproachful eyebrow. The men on each side of him—men Merrick hadn’t wasted time in discovering they weren’t meant for her—stared at her as if she’d just committed blasphemy. A blush crept up her cheeks, and she offered Merrick a weak, apologetic smile.

“ ’Tis food, Anne.”

“No it’s not.” No wonder everyone around here had massive chips on their shoulders. How long had it been since they’d had a decent meal? “Is there maybe some salad somewhere?”

Merrick’s other brow shot up. “Salad?”

His companions continued to stare. Behind Merrick, a stranger with long ash-blond hair turned to looked over his shoulder. His gaze narrowed. Cold blue eyes flashed. Dangerous energy assaulted her.

Anne swallowed down unexplainable foreboding and met Merrick’s soothing onyx stare. The uneasy tension in her belly dissolved. “Yeah, you know— lettuce, celery, carrots, croutons?”

A chuckle shook his shoulders, but he refrained from smiling. “A man does not eat leaves.”

Just like they didn’t believe in radios. Somehow that didn’t surprise her. She dropped her spoon to the table, folded her arms over the scarred surface, and gave each gawking face a sugary-sweet smile. The two men hastily turned their attention to their meal. Behind Merrick, the nosy stranger abruptly turned back to his meal. Anne gestured at her bowl. “If I’m going to eat greasy crap, I think I’ll take McDonald’s. Or maybe Pizza Bob’s. He delivers, you know.”

Merrick indicated her food with his spoon. “What did you tell me earlier? Ah, aye, get used to it.”

TWITTER: @ClaireAshgrove

Ends January 31st!

Claire will be giving away a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a second $25.00 Amazon.com gift certificate to a second randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour. Be sure to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning! Click the Blog Tour badge for a complete list of blog stops.

CENTURIES AGO, Templar knights defied the archangels and unearthed the copper scroll, revealing the gates to hell. Cursed for their forbidden act, they forever roam the earth protecting mankind from evil. But darkness stalks them, and battles they fight bring them ever-closer to eternal damnation. One promise remains to give them salvation – the return of the seraphs.

Embittered by his purpose, Merrick du Loire must honor an ancient pact and bring peace to his cousin’s soul. When he stumbles upon history professor Anne MacPherson, he discovers she possesses a sacred artifact that marks her as a seraph. Duty demands he set aside his personal quest and locate the knight she’s fated to heal. As he struggles with conflicting oaths, Anne arouses buried hope and sparks forbidden desire that challenges everything he’s sworn to uphold.

Anne has six weeks to complete her thesis on the Knights Templar. When Merrick takes her to the Templar stronghold, he presents her with all she needs—and awakens a soul-deep ache, he alone can soothe. Yet loving Merrick comes with a price. If she admits she's destined for him, her gift of foresight predicts his death.


  1. I am SO obsessed with European history as well XD
    Looks like a good book ^-^


  2. sounds like an intense story :D
    email: cruz042 at cougars.csusm.edu

  3. I like enough history to give me a vivid picture of what's happening. I get bogged down by too much detail when it doesn't have any direct impact on the story. I also start skipping through battle scenes when they get too long.

  4. Been following the tour and must say this is going to be a great read! Thank you.


  5. Sounds really awesome!

  6. Accurate historical setting in my historical fiction is a big deal to me. I love learning new bits of history even while I'm getting my dose of romance and/or action. Glad to see that it will be that way with this series of stories.

    Thanks for the post, excerpt, and giveaway opportunity.


  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. I love historical romances. They are just so great! I love the excerpt!

    mary_reiss @ hotmail.com

  9. I'm joining in on the tour hop. The book excerpt was really good. I'd love to try my shot at winning your book. I read a lot of paranormal romance so it would be nice to try something else. Thanks =)

  10. This story sounds very interesting. Count me in for sure, if it's open to Canadian residents!



  11. I love the idea of this book. It sounds so good and right up my alley. I can't wait to read it!!
    Thanks fot the giveaway!!


  12. I love stories about the Templar Knights! I especially want to read about the guy on the cover! LOL Thanks for the awesome guest post :)

    jwitt33 at live dot com

  13. I love the sounds of this book. I do love historicals and have always loved stories of the Knights of Templar.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  14. Thanks for the wonderful post! This book has such an interesting premise! Haven't read much about the Templar Knights. Definitely caught my interest!

    Thanks again!

  15. I think blending history is good. I'm not a big history buff so it wouldn't know if it were true or not. :)

    beckerjo at verizon dot net

  16. I LOVE history! The book sounds amazing! Thanks for the giveaway!


  17. I always enjoyed history at school. I studied Modern & Ancient History. Combining history with fiction & I'm one very happy reader.


  18. I could go either way... I like the historical details and the work that some authors put into their research for the story I really appreciate that effort, but it's not necessary for me to enjoy a story.


  19. I love the historical details. I find that with the historical details that even vampire and werewolf stories become much more believable.


    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com


  20. I like reading about immortals.

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

  21. I love learning while being entertained:) Anytime I can come away from a great story with having learned something about history, I feel my time was well worth it:)

    bchild5 at aol dot com

  22. It would really depend on the writer. I've read books with a lot of historical info. in them. Some made me stop reading (too dry and boring) and for some the info. enriched the story. In general, I would probably like a little to set the backdrop of the story.


  23. I love historical romance. Can't wait to read this book. Thanks for the blog hop. It's been a lot of fun.


  24. I LOVE mixing the story with history. In school, my favorite 2 subjects were English and History. In a Regency/Victorian book I'm working on now, Moria meets a number of historical characters on 2 continents. Her life is very different from what it would have been had she just stayed on the family farm.
    Before this book, I'd never done this before so I found it challenging and great fun. My first book is historical in nature, but no historical characters are involved.

  25. I haven't read a lot of Historical romance but definitely sounds like something I might be interested in.


  26. I am just getting into historical romance. The books sounds interesting.

    sariahwalters at gmail dot com

  27. Haha! I love this excerpt. Very entertaining. I look forward to reading this book. Thank you for hosting this stop:)



  28. Awesome post! I know our guest reviewer loved this book so I'll look forward to reading it in the near future. ~ Donna

  29. I don't. Want a history lesson, but enough facts so I feel like I'm "there". The book sounds exciting. Thanks for the giveaway.

    Gator_trish at msn dot com

  30. That is one hot immortal on the cover!!


  31. This book sounds good. I like a little history thrown in my books. Like you said if you can rationalize it then it is easier to believe. I am also fascinated with knights also so this book is right up my alley. Thansk

    Rachel V


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